The Imitation of Mary, by Abbe Alexander de Rouville. No sooner had the incomparable Imitation of Christ appeared than the faithful began to spontaneously wish for an imitation of Our Lady, and finally, in 1768, a monk pulled together a little powerhouse of meditation on the different mysteries and circumstances of her life, from the Immaculate Conception to her Assumption into Heaven! Click here



 
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Special report:

FRENZY HEIGHTENS OVER OBAMA AS FOES POINT TO EXTREME ABORTION VIEWS AND THE POTENTIAL FOR RISE OF GLOBAL ISLAM

There is a dynamic to the presidential race that is disturbing, and it won't be clear for some time why exactly it is.

It hovers over the Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, and there is no use denying the emotions: never have we seen such apprehension over a candidate.

E-mails and YouTube clips flood cyberspace with worries that run the gamut from ACORN and foreign funding to anti-christ. It is so emotionally charged that saying anything either way causes a chorus of complaints.

Obviously, the concern is that race (Obama is part black, part Caucasian) figures into it: never before have we had a black president, which alone will create anxiety with many people, even if they don't admit it. There also are his links to past radicals: like many black activists, he found allies with whites who were Sixties extremists, even bombers, although the closeness of the ties are subject to great debate. There are also reports of how he supported a brutal and corrupt Kenyan leader named Odinga (although this leader also had support from Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice).

More unsettling, there is the Muslim aspect. Fantastically, the first black nominee for president of the United States comes after the nation was attacked by Muslim radicals led by a man with a name -- Osama -- disquietingly, even eerily, like that of the presidential candidate and at the end of the term for a president who not only went to war in Afghanistan (where Al Qaeda was centered) after 9/11 but also against Saddam Hussein of Iraq -- whose surname is the middle name of the presidential candidate.

The message in that, if there is a message, is too arcane for our reckoning. It is certainly unfair to hold that against Obama. But there is disquiet. Islam has a very extensive militant faction that makes no secret of its intentions to "convert" the world. It is already making significant inroads across parts of Europe (in England they are even altering certain judicial processes to accommodate Muslim forms of justice), and many recall the historical conquests during the Middle Ages (when Muslims owned southern Europe, which is why, in places like Portugal, towns were named for Muslims such as Mohammed's daughter Fatima).

Obama's father was a Muslim (he says a "liberal" one), and Barack attended both a Catholic school and a Muslim public school, where religious discussion was nominal -- before converting to non-denominational Christianity. The problem here is that many are suspicious of Obama's brand of Christianity, if it is the brand of liberation Christianity represented by Pastor Jeremiah Wright, which is far more political than spiritual. Obama was baptized in that church. Reverend Wright interprets the Bible as a chronicle of the struggle of blacks. There are concerns that, like Wright, Obama bears antipathy toward whites. The unspoken fear: how would such antagonism bear out in the White House?

While Barack's mother was white (and an atheist), his father, whom he barely knew, was from Kenya. His stepfather was a Muslim who ate bacon (forbidden by Islam, and indicating less than a devout Muslim). He was raised in Hawaii and Indonesia. Obama thus has been across a spectrum. He appeared at a major Catholic function Thursday night in New York, his hand on the shoulder of a cardinal (despite his stance on abortion). He was raised, in large part, by white  grandparents who were non-practicing Baptist and Methodist, and while with them in Hawaii attended a Christian prep school that was also scant on religious education. A step-grandmother in his father's side is a strict Muslim. The name Barack means "one who is blessed" in Swahili.

The question is whether Obama's polyglot religious background is of concern or whether the apprehension -- when discussions focus on his brush with Islam -- is a cover for racial concerns. He considers himself black.

"When people who don't know me well, black or white, discover my background (and it is usually a discovery, for I ceased to advertise my mother's race at the age of 12 or 13, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites) I see the split-second adjustments they have to make, the searching of my eyes for some telltale signs," he wrote in From Dreams of My Father.

In e-mails, he is also quoted as saying, "I found a solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother's race," but that quote appears in no book he wrote; rather, it was penned the view of a writer reporting on him.

From The Audacity of Hope, Obama is quoted as saying, "I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."

That quote was taken out of context in a myriad of e-mails. He was discussing not global events, but how he would defend the rights of Muslim-Americans here in the U.S. if they were stripped of their rights and interred (as were the Japanese, during World War Two).

We must be careful to tell the truth. We must be fair. We must never be racist -- which is a sin. You can see the full quotes here, in their proper context. In ancient Palestine, the skin was dark!

Few politicians have been slandered as extensively as Obama. One man claimed he had a gay affair with Obama (until the man failed a lie-detector test). Slander is also a sin.

But there are reasons for disquiet. He was pictured carrying a book with a Muslim perspective entitled The Post-American World. It is by a writer named Fareed Zakaria (of Newsweek). Moreover, there is no doubt that Obama once gravitated to the radical element; he names men like "Malcolm and Mandela." Malcolm refers to Malcolm X (also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz -- an African American Muslim minister and human rights activist who is defined as having indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans).

One can only hope that Obama's (and his wife's) views have mellowed, and that high office, if he ascends there, will temper past emotions. One hopes the same with his wife. We can look at good points. This is a brilliant man of tremendous composure -- beyond his years. He has a ready smile. He seems sincere on many issues. His views of war are in line with the Vatican. So are his ideas on economic justice (one has to admit that the pendulum has swung far too much in the way of billionaires, especially those who have made billions off Wall Street, or with oil). His social and environmental programs parallel those marshaled by the Pope. No one can deny this. Nor can one deny that there may be deep reservoirs of good -- and genius -- in him. It is only Christian to see that.

We pray for the predominance of that goodness.

But then there is the game-breaker:

Barack Obama is a man who has stood not only for abortion, but abortion in its most extreme form: partial birth, in which an unborn is yanked down the birth canal, until all but its head is out of the body, the skull then crushed to terminate life (and so that, legally, since the entire baby has not come out, it is not murder).

Murder it is. Infanticide. And it goes a step further. Barack Obama once took to the floor of the Illinois legislature to knock down a law that would have protected a baby whose mother tried but failed to abort it and the baby was born alive.

He argued that another doctor should not be allowed to save that child.

This is more than unfortunate. It is chilling. It made it confusing how Senator Obama could appear on the dais with both his opponent, John McCain, and Cardinal Egan of New York at the same time that Catholics bishops are decrying pro-choicers as those who may not speak at Catholic institutions nor receive Communion.

Such are our times.

If elected, Obama says he will sign a bill that would make unlimited abortions the national law and in the words of one pro-life site "overturn every pro-life law nationwide." That would come with the Freedom of Choice Act (codifying Roe). He will surely nominate pro-choice justices to the Supreme Court. It could set pro-life gains back decades.

Such legislation could erase parental notification laws, force doctors to learn how to do abortions, use taxpayer dollars for abortion, punish Catholic hospitals, and erase laws that make a woman wait 24 hours before going through with an abortion and that give her information on what a fetus (unborn child) is.

Hillary Clinton also supports partial-birth abortion, and much of the same. But Barack Obama may be even more "pro-choice." It is an odd stance, seeing that abortion kills more blacks than whites. He has a 100 percent pro-choice rating from Planned Parenthood.

If he becomes president, and softens his abortion stance, if he grows into the job, and 'de-liberalizes,' we can see avenues of hope. There are two ways it could go. An Obama presidency could serve (albeit not regarding abortion) as an example to black men. He has been married for 16 years, has never left his wife, has no children out of wedlock (that anyone is aware of), and seems dedicated to the rightful upbringing of his children. This is an excellent role model, at a time when 60 percent of black homes are without a father. Moreover, it shows that we can and may be approaching a state in which we are "color blind": many, many whites support Obama and blacks are making gains at attaining equal positions across the spectrum of society. That's good news. Slowly but surely, race has been dwindling as the definition of a person. He shows that education and diligence allow anyone to grasp the American "dream."

Obama epitomizes that. He has Úlan. He is articulate. He is cool-headed. He could bring the races together. Blacks could finally feel that they are fully enfranchised -- totally American. He could bring Muslims and Christians together.

The other side of the coin goes to charisma. Barack Obama has a charisma that has not been seen since Ronald Reagan and perhaps before that with John F. Kennedy. Many have the feeling of a spiritual undercurrent. There is a tug toward him that is not definable but is undeniable. Charisma can come from the good side and also the bad one. Which is this? Time will tell. One sees fantastic rallies -- 100,000 at a political event last weekend for him! People strain to touch him, as they did John Kennedy. He has a captivating way. Is it seduction, or quality? One also notes the potential for upheaval: on the one hand are young militant blacks who in some quarters have shown signs that they have been emboldened, seeking an "Obamanation." Will the first black president make blacks who are antagonistic to whites more amenable to assimilation, or all the more antagonistic? Meanwhile, how will it affect white racists? Will they now be humbled, or will their numbers swell and turn into a little revolt that may then turn into more than a revolt? It didn't help assure those with the notion of a "stealth" candidate when, during a TV interview, Obama had a slip of the tongue and referred to "my Muslim faith" (which he quickly and nonchalantly corrected to "my Christian faith"), when interviewed on ABC by George Stephanopoulos.

The fear: a leader with Muslim and perhaps socialist views could turn on Christians and make headway in sort of a purge with a secular Congress that may be overwhelmingly Democrat (and beyond filibuster).

Obama has shown no signs of that. He professes Christ. He started his campaign with praise to the "glory of God." We must take him at his word.

But it is not comforting to hear Louis Farrakhan proclaim the new rise of the "Nation of Islam" here in the U.S. (this is a nation founded on Christianity), nor to hear Omar Gadhafi praise -- and virtually lust for -- the American candidate, who has world charisma. Or is everyone simply hyperventilating? We can see why many devout Catholics are stridently against him. Divisions in America are a potential. The rise of Islam would be the rise of anti-Christianity.

The winds are shifting swiftly.

We could be seeing a rapid escalation of events many have expected. the first American since Kennedy with international appeal, which opens up a whole new aspect at this time of globalization.

Is Islam on the march?

Is America at a precipice?

Will the U.S. split into republics (or regions), due to racial and ethnic tensions? Is there a dynamic behind this election that is unusual (and a smite apocalyptic)?

Obama: is he God's way of bringing the races together, or does his very name imply chastisement for something the Vatican opposed (war) as well as its tolerance since 1973 of abortion?

There is danger. One conundrum: it is difficult to define Obama as stridently Muslim when Muslims are against abortion and homosexuality, which Barack also defends, troublesomely. Is he really that prone to Islam? Does he favor the Koran?

No use pretending to have the answers. John McCain is an honorable man who has his own pluses and minuses, as do we all. He is a patriot, no doubt, and brave. Whether he is evenhanded is something many have questioned, along with his views on embryonic stem cells: for while he is a stalwart against the standard means of abortion, he favors research with embryonic stem cells, which has potential medical benefits but which involves the destruction of life -- human life -- at its earliest form.

Those who believe that life begins at conception must be concerned since an embryo forms after conception. Thus, embryonic stem cell research, if less visible than other forms, is nonetheless abortion. McCain also differs from Rome when it comes to warfare.

It is a flawed race. We hope for the best. We hope for equanimity. We vote for the best.

Muslim; pro-abortion -- even wanting to pass new legislation assuring the right to choice at any stage of pregnancy, for whatever reason. Add to this concerns about his ties to Oprah Winfrey, who has become the crown-princess of the New Age. If true, tough stuff. What spirituality will be walking into the White House?

In the end, this is more important than any single defined issue. And beyond Islam and abortion, there is a spiritual unsettlement. That unsettlement must be addressed.

A brilliant fellow, Obama. He impressed many during the debates.

Maybe he will surprise us with the way he compromises, the way he changes, if he becomes president. We always like to maintain hope. The presidency can elevate.

But we realize the potential danger and like to hedge our bets and so for the first black president we propose a  candidate who no one even mentions and yet who once out-debated both Bush and Kerry and who is ardently against abortion and is Catholic and whose name is Alan Keyes. He is on the ballot as an independent.

Look him up here. You won't get more pro-life. You also won't get more intelligent.

How come we never hear of him?

[see also: Mayor apologizes for e-mail, Horror audio and transcript: letting a live baby die, Gadhafi lauds Obama, Farrakhan: new rise for Nation of Islam, Joe the Plumber wants Alan Keyes, Palin: 'I'm sure Obama loves country', McCain campaign office under fire for Hitler, Castro signs, Blog: an Obama time-line, Buchanan: temporal punishment, Catholic event stirs complaint and Bishop: 'Remember vote will be recalled on judgment day']

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